The News
The News
Wednesday 07 of December 2022

White House Adviser 'Counseled' After Brand Promotion


This frame grab from video provided by Fox News shows White House adviser Kellyanne during her interview with Fox News Fox and Friends, Thursday, Feb. 9, 2017, in the briefing room of the White House in Washington,photo:AP/Fox News
This frame grab from video provided by Fox News shows White House adviser Kellyanne during her interview with Fox News Fox and Friends, Thursday, Feb. 9, 2017, in the briefing room of the White House in Washington,photo:AP/Fox News
In an interview later Thursday evening on Fox, Conway declined to discuss the case but said she had spoken with Trump and "he supports me 100 percent"

WASHINGTON — The White House has “counseled” a top aide to President Donald Trump after she promoted Ivanka Trump’s fashion line during a national cable television appearance from the White House.

But House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz says that’s not enough, calling what Kellyanne Conway did “wrong, wrong, wrong, clearly over the line, unacceptable.”

The Utah Republican congressman and Democratic Oversight Leader Elijah Cummings jointly asked the Office of Government Ethics to review the matter.

Chaffetz also said he will write a formal letter to the White House lodging his irritation. He said White House press secretary Sean Spicer’s remark Thursday that Conway has been “counseled” doesn’t go far enough.

“It needs to be dealt with,” he said in an interview with reporters. It’s the first time during the young administration that Chaffetz has questioned an ethical matter.

Speaking later to Utah lawmakers, Chaffetz added: “Of course I’m going to call that out. My job is not to be a cheerleader for the president.”

The White House said later Thursday that Trump “absolutely” continues to support Conway. In response to questions from reporters, the White House said Trump didn’t see Conway’s interview on Fox News. But a spokeswoman said Trump “understands she was merely sticking up for a wonderful woman who she has great respect for and felt was treated unfairly.”

In an interview later Thursday evening on Fox, Conway declined to discuss the case but said she had spoken with Trump and “he supports me 100 percent.”

The ethics dustup began Wednesday with the president himself.

Reacting to news that a department store had dropped his daughter’s line of clothing and accessories, Trump tweeted — and retweeted from the official presidential account — that Ivanka Trump had been treated “so unfairly by @Nordstrom.”

In this May 13, 2016 file photo, the Nordstrom logo is displayed above the post where it trades on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange in New York. Photo: AP /Richard Drew

Ivanka Trump does not have a specific role in the White House but moved to Washington with her husband, Jared Kushner, who is one of Trump’s closest advisers. She followed her father’s approach on business ties by handing over operating control of her fashion company but retaining ownership of it.

In a Thursday morning interview with Fox News from the White House briefing room, Conway urged people to “go buy Ivanka’s stuff,” boasting that she was giving the brand “a free commercial here.”

While Trump and Vice President Mike Pence are not subject to ethical regulations and laws for federal employees, Conway, who is a counselor to the president, is. Among the rules: An employee shall not use his or her office “for the endorsement of any product, service or enterprise.”

“For whatever reason, the White House staff evidently believes that they are protected from the law the same way the president and vice president are,” said Stuart Gilman, a former special assistant to the director of Office of Government Ethics.

He called Conway’s comments “unbelievable” and said they risk wrecking the U.S.’s reputation around the world as a model for government employee ethics.

Midday Thursday, the Office of Government Ethics sent a series of tweets saying the office has seen an “extraordinary” response from people emailing, calling and submitting information online about “recent events.”

The office advises federal employees on such issues but is not an enforcement agency; enforcement falls to Congress, the General Accounting Office, the FBI, various inspectors general and others, OGE noted on Twitter.

Ultimately, it is up to Trump to punish employees for ethics infractions.

 

JULIE BYKOWICZ
BERNARD CONDON